City seeks bids to stabilize historic Tacoma Totem Pole

The City of Tacoma announced Friday it will accept bids from select contractors to stabilize the 110-year-old historic Tacoma Totem Pole in Fireman’s Park in downtown Tacoma.

Last April, City of Tacoma engineers raised safety concerns over the structural integrity of the totem pole after two engineers with PCS Structural Solutions, a firm contracted by the City of Tacoma, found enough “soft wet deteriorated wood” and “significant deterioration” that the pole’s seismic stability has been compromised by at least 50 per cent. As a result, Tacoma’s public works director ordered the totem pole be stabilized immediately and the surrounding park area to be fenced off.

The Tacoma Totem Pole, which stands 82-feet-six-inches tall, was carved by Alaskan Indians on Vashon Island and installed in Tacoma in 1903. According to Metro Parks Tacoma, it stood for decades near South 10th and A Streets, but was moved to Fireman’s Park, located at South 9th and A Streets, in 1953. The pole includes carved images of an eagle, killer whale, raven, grizzly bear, and wolf. It was designated an historic landmark in 1975 and is now part of the city’s collection of public art.

“This is a historic structure and the work is extremely sensitive,” wrote City of Tacoma staff in bid documents prepared and released on Fri., Feb. 28. “Caution will be required to avoid damaging the pole while trying to install bracing and a steel pole behind the existing Totem Pole. The pole is compromised due to natural aging, wet conditions, and past infestations of carpenter ants. The pole was treated and there are currently no carpenter ants believed to be present. The pole has significant void spaces and wood rot in at least the first 15′ (ground up). Additional void space and wood rot may be present at higher elevations as well. The work preformed should be by an experienced crane operator with maximum protection provided.”

The project budget is $40,000 to $50,000. Bids from Small Works Roster contractors notified directly by the City of Tacoma will be received until 11 a.m. on Mon., March 31. More information is available online here.

The City of Tacoma is seeking bids for a project to stabilize the 110-year-old historic Tacoma Totem Pole in Fireman's Park. (IMAGE COURTESY CITY OF TACOMA)

The City of Tacoma is seeking bids for a project to stabilize the 110-year-old historic Tacoma Totem Pole in Fireman’s Park. (IMAGE COURTESY CITY OF TACOMA)